School ‘pushing out’ community with regulations

Ann Wilkins - lady who runs Air Active Gymnastics at the Winslow Centre
Ann Wilkins - lady who runs Air Active Gymnastics at the Winslow Centre
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A community gymnastics club is being ‘forced out’ of its home of 25 years by hard-line safety measures from a free school according to its owner.

Ann Wilkins, who runs Air Active Gymnastics from the Winslow Centre, says that tough new rules introduced since the Sir Thomas 
Fremantle School moved into the building in 2013 has made her life a misery.

But headteacher Darren Lyon says rigorous procedures are essential, and that an Ofsted outstanding rating for safeguarding proves he is doing the right thing.

Mrs Wilkins, who lives in Magpie Way, said: “A lot of groups and societies have already vacated the building because of the atmosphere.

“I am extremely sad about it, I have been there over twenty years and both my sons have come back as coaches. It’s a fun and friendly place for gymnastics and we have had so many compliments about it.

“But the atmosphere at the moment is not conducive to relaxing and enjoying 
ourselves.”

Mrs Wilkins (pictured at the centre), who has had to give up coaching due to mobility problems but still runs the club, says students walk through the hall in muddy shoes and that they feel ‘watched’ by staff .

She said: “One of the male pupils ogled a mother who was sat breastfeeding her baby. She was extremely 
upset and asked me if there was anything I could do.”

Mr Lyon said: “We have just received an outstanding grade from Ofsted for 
safeguarding from an Ofsted perspective we are doing all the right things.

“Some users find that oppressive, but when you have 200-plus kids in school you have to be rigorous, and we make no apologies for that.”